Short-man syndrome is REAL: Smaller men have psychopathic and narcissistic tendencies that help them appear more powerful despite their lack of height, scientists say

  • Researchers investigated the link between height and ‘dark triad’ traits
  • They are psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism, and signal malevolence
  • A link was found between all three traits and dissatisfaction with height
  • Shorter men tended to score more highly in narcissism, while women did not

With #ShortKingSpring trending on social media earlier this year, it would seem the trope of ‘tall, dark and handsome’ for the perfect man has had its day.

Heartthrobs Joe Jonas and Tom Holland, both 5’8″, are often seen proudly walking on the red carpet with their taller significant others Sophie Turner and Zendaya.

But scientists say those looking for a vertically-challenged partner may need to proceed with caution.

For a study has found shorter men tend to display more narcissistic tendencies to appear more powerful.

Its lead author Monika Kozłowska, from the University of Wrocław in Poland, said: ‘When people cannot be physically formidable, they may become psychologically formidable instead.

‘Shorter people with traits such as psychopathy can use them to demand respect, impose costs on others and impress romantic partners.

‘Appearing more powerful may in turn make other people perceive them as taller than they really are.’

For the study, published in Elsevier journal Personality and Individual Differences, Ms Kozłowska investigated the so-called ‘Napoleon Complex’.

This is a domineering or aggressive attitude displayed by shorter people compensating for their lack of height.

It is named after the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte, who was reported to be either 5’2″ or 5’7″ in different historical accounts and mocked by British newspapers for his height during the French Revolution.

He was also portrayed by his enemies to be an angry man who sought power and war, and his alleged smaller stature was linked to these characteristics.

Ms Kozłowska wanted to see if there was a connection between men deemed shorter than average, and displaying the ‘dark triad’ personality traits.

These are psychopathy — defined by lack of empathy and antisocial behaviour; narcissism — a self-centred personality style; and Machiavellianism — demonstrating manipulation and indifference towards morality.

Researchers surveyed 367 men and women using the ‘dirty dozen’ dark triad questionnaire, where participants were asked how strongly they agree with phrases such as ‘I tend to manipulate others to get my way’.

From the responses, they were given a score that indicated how strongly they demonstrated psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism.

Each participant also had to disclose their height, as well as indicate how satisfied they were with their height and how frequently they felt this way about it.

The results showed shorter participants of both sexes who wished to be taller tended to score more highly for all three dark triad traits.

However, narcissism was particularly strong with male participants in this category, while this trend was non-existent for women.

The researchers hypothesise that these associations can be attributed to evolution.

They wrote: ‘Shorter men can demand respect, impose costs on others, acquire resources, and impress romantic partners by their traits.

‘Shorter women can use deception to appear more desirable or to gain protection and resources.

‘Additionally, appearing more powerful may in turn affect others’ perceptions of one’s estimated height.

‘We propose that psychological formidability may provide advantages in survival and mating domains that offset losses in physical formidability.’

If your boyfriend is always talking about how great he is, a new study may encourage you to be wary.

Researchers have revealed men with dark personality traits – including Machiavellianism, narcissism and sadism – are more likely to be repeated cheaters.

The survey results also showed that men obtained higher scores than women both in moral disengagement and dark personality traits.

‘People with dark personality traits can establish short-term relationships more easily because they generally have low expectations about their future partners, especially in the case of men,’ said researchers Laura Ferreiros and Miguel Clemente from Universidade da Coruna.

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